Page 177 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
geo-political border and/or live in both countries. Bulgarian citizens also go to or come back from
Turkey – as tourists and/or heirs of their predecessors. The thus outlined broader picture stimulated
our research perspectives and posed the challenge of critically reconsidering our theoretical
reflections with regard to migration and mobility. If we consider mobility as a manifestation of the
social in the 21 century, thenwe should critically examine the nation-state – a debatewhich indeed
is characteristic of late modernity. Here we need to clarify that we remain within the categories of
state territories because we position ourselves on the border and because it is still the case that
the two groups define themselves in terms of historically constructed collective identities.
The border is the key methodological instrument in studying the effects of the above-
signposted political, social and cultural changes. Migration waves on the Balkans are thought
of in terms of out-migration, settlement, and re-settlement of large groups of people. The last
considerable wave from Bulgaria to Turkey was called ‘The Big Excursion’, while the Bulgarian
citizens who left the country were referred to as ‘out-migrants’. In this context we ask ourselves
the question about what type of migration out-migration is and whether we still have grounds to
regard the change of the place of residence and way of life, connected with geographic mobility,
as a one-directional process when members of this group of people have citizenship status in
two countries. This question is very interesting in itself in the context of increased, and indeed
increasing, mobility in societies at present and raises further political, social and demographic
issues. At the same time it brings to the fore the issues of ‘transfer’ and ‘sharing’ of cultural models
in the new social space. What is more, the emergence of new strategies for personal and group
identification, for cultural contact and intercultural dialogue between ‘the first generation’ of
migrants and their receiving communities gradually articulates the necessity for the inception of
strategies with which these will be passed on to their inheritors – ‘the second generation’.
Here is theplacetomentionthatour studyconsidersgenerationsasatypologicalpositioning
of migrants in the change of place of residence, a positioning which signifies the cultural and
social effects resulting from the interaction with the new environment. The ‘first generation’ is
the generation of transition. Its representatives are the ones to transfer and translate the (‘native’)
cultural context in the new society and find a place in that new society. The empirical observations
we accumulated gave us grounds to introduce in the course of our field work a similar delineation
within the group of ‘the second generation’ of migrants and to talk about ‘the generation in
their 20’s’ and ‘the generation in their 30’s’ on the grounds of ‘social generation’, i.e. a particular
social group possessing similar or “neighbouring”, in the sense attributed by Bourdieu, social
and biographical life chances. With the ethnic Turks migrating from Bulgaria to the Republic of
Turkey the first generation is, in a historical perspective, a ‘third’generation (in the grid of historical
generations) – the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of migrants who have only a symbolic
link to ‘the country of origin’ but who use this link as an important category in the process of self-
identification (more on this in Zlatkova, Penkova 2011, 2012).
This context calls for a re-examination of the border through concepts such as
‘inheritance’
and
‘identity’
in the study of such and similar migration phenomena and the effects of mobility
on people in the present.